More Democrats threaten impeachment over Trump's dealings with Ukraine

A slow but steady trickle of House Democrats are lining up this week to support the impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE if the White House refuses to cooperate in the investigation of Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Connecticut Reps. John Larson John Barry LarsonCOVID-19 damage to Social Security to extend beyond pandemic It's time for a grand agreement on Social Security What we need to do next to defeat COVID and unify the country MORE (D) and Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroOn The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser Overnight Defense: Lawmakers release compromise defense bill in defiance of Trump veto threat | Senate voting next week on blocking UAE arms sale | Report faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' in military plane crashes Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE (D) announced Monday evening that they'll back the impeachment effort if the administration stonewalls the Democrats' probe into reports that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to examine corruption accusations against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE, the Democratic frontrunner in the primary race to challenge Trump in 2020.


"As with many of my colleagues, I have been reluctant to call for an impeachment inquiry because it would further divide the country, be perceived as overturning the 2016 election, and go to the United States Senate where Republicans would acquit President Trump regardless of the evidence," DeLauro said in a statement.

"But these actions regarding the 2020 election are a turning point.”

Both DeLauro, a close ally of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE (D-Calif.), and Larson, the former head of the Democratic Caucus, have previously rejected impeachment in favor of the investigative strategy favored by Pelosi and other top Democratic leaders. By sounding a warning that they're on the cusp of supporting the liberal impeachment push, they've sent a signal that the allegations of Trump recruiting a foreign power to help his 2020 bid could be a tipping point in the impeachment debate.

Neither lawmaker endorsed impeachment outright, but said they'll do so if Joseph Maguire, the acting director of National Intelligence, refuses to release a whistleblower report detailing Trump's July conversation with Zelensky when Maguire appears before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

"This is a defining moment," Larson said in a statement. "If the Director refuses to comply at Thursday’s hearing, the Trump Administration has left Congress with no alternative but for the House to begin impeachment proceedings, which I will support.”

Pelosi has been cold to the growing impeachment movement, noting it lacks the support of both voters and Republicans whose votes would be crucial to any effort to oust the president. She's also fighting to maintain control of the House by protecting vulnerable Democrats in swing districts, where impeachment could be a liability at the polls next year.

Yet two Minnesota Democrats in battleground districts — Reps. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsChamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night If we want change, young people have to do more than protest Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking MORE and Angie Craig — announced Monday that they, too, would endorse impeachment if further investigations reveal that Trump coordinated with a foreign leader to harm his foremost political rival.  

"If the reports are corroborated, we must pursue articles of impeachment and report them to the full House of Representatives for immediate consideration,” Phillips said in a statement.

Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellOvernight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards Ex-AG Holder urges GOP to speak against Trump efforts to 'subvert' election results MORE (D-Mich.), who had previously said impeachment would be playing into Russia's hands, on Monday said she supported an inquiry "after recent revelations."

"This country is divided. We cannot be divided on the rule of law. As an elected official my oath is to protect national security and the Constitution. After recent revelations, I support an impeachment inquiry because we must follow the facts and hold the President accountable," she wrote on Twitter.



Also on Monday a group of seven freshmen House Democrats penned an op-ed in the Washington Post in which they said the allegations against Trump, if true, would be an impeachable offense.

"He allegedly sought to use the very security assistance dollars appropriated by Congress to create stability in the world, to help root out corruption and to protect our national security interests, for his own personal gain," the lawmakers wrote. "These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent."

Trump has forcefully denied the reports that he pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son by threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the country's leaders examined corruption accusations against the former vice president. Trump alleges that Biden sought to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor Trump says was hostile to the owner of a Ukrainian oil company that had contracted Hunter Biden as a consultant in the Obama era.

"I put no pressure on them whatsoever," Trump told reporters Monday, amid a gathering of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. "I could have. I think it would probably, possibly have been OK if I did. But I didn’t."

He added: “If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair by right now.”

Democrats, already critical of the Trump campaign's interactions with Russian operatives during the 2016 cycle, are skeptical of the president's claims. They want full transparency surrounding Trump's conversation with Zelensky — waving the impeachment threat as perhaps their only response if the White House fails to comply.

"An impeachment inquiry may be the only recourse Congress has if the President is enlisting foreign assistance in the 2020 election," DeLauro said. "Congress must meet this pivotal moment in our nation’s history with decisive action.”

Pelosi has scheduled a meeting Tuesday afternoon with the chairs of the six committees conducting investigations into Trump, according to a source familiar with the plan. House Democrats have also scheduled an unusual caucus meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Capitol. The topic remains unclear, but aides speculated it would focus on a path forward on impeachment.

Scott Wong and Olivia Beavers contributed.